Freddy Tangles: Champ or Chicken
Freddy Tangles: Legend or Loser
Allen & Unwin, 2015
128pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99
In this new series for boys who are independent readers Brand and Jellett introduce Freddy Tangles who is an ordinary boy to whom extraordinary things happen. Even though the events themselves are ordinary, if there is something that can go wrong then it will happen to Freddy and this makes for some really funny adventures that will appeal to those who like Big Nate and Tom Gates. Freddy is at that age that boys go through where they are awkward, accident-prone and tongue tied and so his audience will relate to him and perhaps gain some comfort in recognising themselves in him.
Freddy is a likeable lad, bold on the outside but not quite so on the inside with a group of friends like Blocker from Russia who has a quirky way of giving good advice, Scabs who is also accident prone and Tabby, a smart, straight-talking girl whom Freddy is gradually realising is a girl. As the titles of each book suggest, Freddy encounters a major issue in each story and he has to take the actions that decide whether he is a loser or a legend, a chicken or a champ.
Liberally illustrated in cartoon style, but with more text than a graphic novel, this series has the potential to be the next big thing with the age group. It will be interesting to see how my middle-school boys respond to it.